Every year, many car accidents happen in the United States. California records many fatal injuries and deaths resulting from car accidents. After getting involved in a car accident, you may suffer extensive injuries leading to hefty medical bills incurred while looking for treatment for the injuries. You may have to take some time before resuming work leading to lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Vehicle damage resulting from an accident could lead to high vehicle repair costs. The action you take after a car accident will influence your compensation for the damages you suffer. Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can guide you on the best steps to take after involvement in a car accident.
Car Accidents in California
The various causes of car accidents in California are reckless driving, failure to yield right of way, and driving while intoxicated. The common types of car accidents include rear-end collisions, rollovers, side-impact collisions, and head-on collisions. After getting involved in a car accident, you may be confused and overwhelmed. It’s common to experience these feelings after an accident. However, it is crucial to understand that the steps you take will significantly determine your compensation and legal rights.
The time after a car accident is always stressful, and most victims do not consider taking necessary steps available to protect themselves and preserve their rights. Taking improper steps after a car accident might implicate you even if you aren’t at fault. Some of the essential steps to take after involvement in a car accident are:
Stay at the Accident Scene
After being involved in a car accident, you should put on your vehicle's hazard lights to avoid more collisions with the moving traffic. Suppose your car can move to the edge of the road, capture pictures of the vehicles involved in the accidents before moving your vehicle. It’s also essential to stay at the scene of the accident until the police come. You may only leave the scene if you need urgent medical attention.
It’s particularly essential to remain at the accident scene if another person sustains serious injuries or passes on. If you leave the accident scene without leaving any contact information, the police will treat it as a hit and run case that would lead to severe consequences. The consequences could include hefty fines and jail terms. However, if the accident does not have death or injuries, but property damage only, you may leave the scene. However, you should identify yourself with the parties present at the scene.
Make your Record Outlining what Happened at the Accident Scene
After involvement in a car accident, you may lose the memory of some events about the accident as time goes by. Therefore, it’s crucial to write the details of the accident as soon as it happens. It’s advisable to write all the information on the accident, including those that may appear minor at that time. For instance, if the accident occurred due to poor visibility resulting from bad weather, capture it in your report. The accident might also have occurred due to poor road conditions like potholes. You should also record the time and the date when the accident happened. You should note down the exact place where the accident occurred and the direction that the other motorists and you were heading to at the time of the accident.
It is crucial to consolidate as much information as possible. In addition to recording the accident information, you should take some photos or request another person to take pictures for you if possible, capturing in pictures the identification numbers of the vehicles involved. Note down the colors, make, year of manufacture, and model of the cars involved. You should also write down the license number plate of all the vehicles involved in the accident.
Ensure that you locate the other vehicle’s identification number on the inner side of the driver’s door close to the door latch. You can also trace the identification number of the vehicle from the driver’s insurance or registration card. Typically, the dashboard may bear the vehicle's identification on the driver's side, close to where the dashboard meets the windshield.
It’s advisable to physically check the registration number of the vehicles involved in the accident. However, the other party may refuse to have you check the registration number. In such a case, you should not go against the person’s will.
If you have picture-capturing devices such as a phone or a camera, capture the other driver’s insurance card and the number plates of the vehicles. Ensure that you capture the pictures of the damaged vehicles. The photos will help your insurance company, and your injury lawyer determines what transpired at the accident scene. Capturing the accident scene in pictures will also prevent other parties from advocating that you are responsible for the accident.
Avoid standing too close your vehicle wreckage to avoid sustaining further injuries in case of a fire outbreak after the accident. You should keep a safe distance from the vehicle wreckage. Depending on the situation surrounding the accident, staying too close to the scene of an accident may expose you to further harm. You might consider moving your car if it’s building up traffic that could result in more collisions.
Capture some quick photos before you move your car. You should leave the car at the scene of an accident if it is impossible to move the car from the road. If the situation allows, it’s ideal to leave all the vehicles involved in the accident intact until the police arrive. If some victims are trapped in the vehicle wreckage, moving them could expose them to more harm. Therefore, you should avoid moving the vehicle until the rescue team arrives.
Call the Police
If you are involved in a car accident, you can be sure that the damage will be significant. You have to include traffic law enforcers as soon as possible. The police will record an official statement that could be of great help if you decide to seek compensation for the damages. Your insurance company will also require a report from the police.
As you wait for the police to come, you may opt to move your vehicle from the road to avoid building traffic. If your vehicle is wreckage and unable to move, you may turn on the hazard lights to warn other motorists as you wait for the law enforcers to come.
Exchange Contact Information
While talking to the other people involved in the accident or the law enforcers, consider weighing what you say. Cooperate with the law enforcers at the scene of an accident by answering their questions, but be keen on the information you give them. Don’t utter words that may make the law enforcers believe that you are responsible for the car accident.
It’s important to exchange contact information with other people at the accident scene, especially the witnesses. The information may include the phone numbers and names of witnesses, passengers, and other drivers.
You may also try to get reliable information from the original insurance cards of the other drivers involved in the accident. It’s also advisable to report to the police as soon as possible if you discover that the other driver does not have insurance or a valid driving license.
Once the law enforcers clear the accident scene, the crowd will disperse, and normal traffic will resume. Witnesses will be important in revealing what happened during the accident. If you fail to take the witnesses' contacts, you may not be able to reach them when you need them to testify in your injury claim.
Record the Injuries Sustained
After getting involved in a car accident, you should make a record detailing the extent of your injuries. This record may enhance your chances of getting better compensation for your injuries. You may request any willing individual at the scene of the accident to capture pictures of your injuries. You might sustain visible injuries like scarring, bruising, or burns. It’s also crucial to seek treatment for the injuries sustained during an accident.
During treatment, you may request your doctor or nurse to capture some photos of your injuries. Additionally, it’s essential to consider keeping track of all the procedures involved in the medical process. This would be of great help while pursuing your compensation from the liable parties.
If you sustain serious injuries after involvement in a car accident and need urgent medical care, don’t wait for the police's arrival. You may call 911 or ask any other person present at the scene of the accident to call on your behalf. You may also consider leaving behind your contact information with the other parties involved or witnesses before leaving the scene. This will make it easy for the police to trace you.
While receiving medical treatment, take note of all the treatment procedures administered to you. Ensure that you keep copies of all the medical receipts. The receipts will come in handy in proving that you incurred medical costs for your injuries.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you might require continued treatment for many months to come. For instance, your doctor might recommend months of physical therapy and medications to help you recover. You should request your doctor for a medical report detailing the treatment you will require. This will make it easy for your car accident attorney to seek compensation for you.
Never Accept or Admit Fault
Avoid apologizing to the other parties, such as passengers or drivers, after a car accident. A simple alteration of sorry can implicate you and make you look like you’re responsible for it. Saying sorry could deny you an opportunity of getting the compensatory damages you deserve from the other responsible party.
Deny any liability or blame from the other parties for the accident, even if you are convinced that you carry some responsibility for the accident. This is because California law apportions fault among the responsible parties in a car accident. You may be slightly responsible for the accident. However, you may still receive compensation for the damages, even if you are slightly responsible.
The other drivers or passengers may persuade you to take responsibility for the accident. It’s good to tell them to inform your attorney instead of convincing you to admit fault. If the other parties inquire about your injuries, avoid sharing details of your injuries with them.
Consult a Car Accident Attorney
It’s important to contact a car accident attorney if you sustain injuries or suffer property damage after involvement in a car accident. An attorney comes in purposely to protect your rights and determine whether you qualify to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation. After an accident, you will experience a moment of confusion, and you might wonder what to do next. This is the best time to contact your attorney. Your attorney can help you know which procedure to follow and guide you by taking legal action after an accident. Your attorney will advise you on the court's expectations if you decide to file a claim to seek compensation for the damages.
To get the settlement offer, your attorney will help you write an insurance demand letter. Expertise from prior car accident cases will enable your attorney to handle insurance adjusters. The moment a car accident happens, insurance companies rush to hire an insurance adjuster to find the underlying cause of the accident.
Attorneys have full knowledge regarding the dirty tricks that insurance companies use to deny victims their compensation. The adjusters don’t care about the wellbeing of victims. Insurance adjusters often seek to maximize profits for insurance companies. Therefore, they aim to reduce the victims’ compensation.
Accidents happen abruptly, and you may not have enough money to seek medication, especially if you don’t have adequate medical insurance. Your attorney may link you with a doctor who takes a medical lien in Los Angeles. You will be able to receive treatment even if you can’t pay for the treatment bills immediately. The medical facility will recover the treatment charges from your compensation.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
After a car accident and making them aware if you have sustained serious injuries, cooperation with your insurance company is crucial. It’s important to call your insurance company and let them know about a vehicle collision. You should inform your insurers to prompt them to obtain a copy of the accident report from the law enforcement officers.
Many accident victims in Los Angeles don’t file car accident claims because they fear that their insurers may hike their insurance rates. In the United States, only two states prohibit insurers from hiking premiums after an accident if the policyholder is not at fault for the accident. The state of California doesn’t allow insurance companies to raise insurance premiums if the car accident is not the liability of the policyholder. Therefore, you should not fear to report an accident because it will not affect your insurance rates.
It’s important to report the car accident to your insurance company, even if you are responsible for it. Insurance companies in California require drivers to inform them of an accident as soon as it happens. Don’t take too long before you report the accident to your insurer. However, even if you fail to report the accident, the other party might still take the report to your insurance company. You risk having your license revoked if the other driver reports the accident to your insurance company after you deliberately conceal it.
By reporting the accident to your insurance company on time, you will give your insurance company enough time to investigate the accident and protect you. Your insurance company may hike your insurance policy if you fail to report the accident to them.
Avoid Saying You’re Not Hurt
Accidents happen abruptly, and this may make adrenaline rush in your body. Even if you feel fine, don’t reveal to the other party involved about how you feel. Immediately you get involved in an accident, you may experience shock or numbness. Even if you are injured, you may not feel any discomfort until the numbness wears off.
You should avoid lying about your injuries. Giving false information about your injuries and exaggerating how you feel may make the other parties doubt your credibility. You should request the other parties to allow you to undergo a medication examination to know the extent of your injuries.
It is common for drivers or other people involved in a car accident to inquire about how you feel. You should never admit that you’re fine, even if you feel okay. Accepting that you are okay may give the responsible parties a chance to deny you the deserved compensation.
If you sustain injuries in the soft tissues, the injuries may not be apparent immediately. Don’t be lenient to the other party’s insurance company by admitting that you are not injured. This admission could greatly reduce the compensation for your injuries.
Inform the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California always advises drivers to use the SRI form to report car accidents to them. At the same time, DMV may suspend your driver's driving license for one year if you fail to report it. Under California law, reporting an accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles should within ten days after the accident.
It’s important to inform the DMV about the accident if an individual sustains injuries, however minor the injuries may be. The California law also demands that drivers inform the DMV if an individual passes on in a car accident. Additionally, it advisable to report to the DMV if the accident results in damages exceeding $ 1000. It’s particularly crucial to inform the DMV in case you wish to put a claim through your Auto Insurance.
Avoid giving Written or Recorded Statements to other Insurance Companies
After a car accident, you should only give information to the other party’s insurance company if your attorney approves it. The other insurance company may try to reach you to find out about the occurrence of the accident and the extent of your injuries. The insurance company is not willing to help you but seeking a chance to deny you the rightful compensation.
It’s important to note that the other party’s insurance company is not on your side, and it doesn’t have your interests at heart. Therefore, you should avoid giving any details to them. The other party’s insurance company may use the content you give them to deny you compensation.
Don’t Repair the Vehicle Wreckage
After involvement in a vehicle accident, you should not be quick to repair the vehicle wreckage. It’s important to note that the vehicle wreckage acts as evidence and portrays the extent of vehicle damage due to the accident. If you plan to repair your vehicle, you should have a licensed mechanic, assess it to give you the value of damages.
The other party’s insurance company may insist on evaluating your vehicle wreckage before compensating for vehicle damage. You might have a hard time convincing the insurance company if you repaired the vehicle without obtaining a damage report.
Be Careful with Social Media
While pursuing compensation after suffering injuries in a car accident, you should be careful about what you post on your social media platforms. You should avoid posting any information that might contradict your claim. For instance, if you have suffered catastrophic injuries in the accident, you should avoid posting photos of your outdoor activities after the accident.
You can never know who is monitoring your moves. The other party's insurance company will be watching you find any information that could ruin your compensation. You should never share information regarding the accident on your social media pages. Instead, you should let your car accident attorney handle the case until you receive compensation.
Find a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney Near Me
You deserve to get compensation for your injuries and other damages after a car accident. However, the steps you take after an accident will impact your ability to seek compensation. Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can advise you on the steps to take after an accident. We can also evaluate your case and help you seek compensation. Contact us at 424-237-3600 and speak to one of our attorneys.